Swan Pitt, Norwich Davies, G. Christopher  (British, 1849-1922)

The illustrations to this book are printed on copperplate direct from negatives taken (with one exception) by the Author, and etched by a process worked by Messrs. T. & R. Annan. (preface)

This may be the first book illustrated in photogravure by Annan, who had just returned from learning the process in Vienna. If so, it is the first book illustrated by that process in Britain. One of the forgotten photographers of the time is Christopher Davies whose work in East Anglia preceded that of P. H. Emerson in the early 1880’s. The book was reissued in 1884 with woodcuts rather than photogravures indicating an effort to make the book more affordable and available to the masses. An interesting contrast to Emerson’s objectives with his books of the same subject. [1]

In 1887, at the age of 57, Thomas Annan committed suicide during what his death certificate described as ‘a period of mental aberration’. A year later, his sons, John (1863–1947) and James Craig (1864–1946), were listed as part of the family business, although both had been learning the trade for some years. John specialized in architectural photography, and is thought to have been responsible for the firm’s engineering photographs. James had set up a photo-engraving business with Donald Swan in London in 1885, but upon his father’s death returned to Glasgow to become a partner in the family business.


[1] Taylor John. The Old Order and the New : P.h. Emerson and Photography 1885-1895. Prestel 2006 p. 48